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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court concluding that McKinley Chiropractic Center, P.C. (McKinley) was entitled to judgment against Erie Insurance Company (Erie). Devonta Dodson was involved in a motor vehicle collision with Joann Hutson. Erie insured Hutson with liability coverage under an automobile insurance company. Dodson, who sought chiropractic care for her injuries arising from the collision, executed a document assigning to McKinley all insurance and/or litigation proceeds to which she may be entitled and all causes of action she might have against Erie. Dodson subsequently accepted $7,300 from Erie in return for Dodson’s agreement to release both Hutson and Erie from causes of action arising from the claimed legal liability of Hutson and Erie arising out of the accident. McKinley subsequently filed a warrant in debt against Erie. The district court rendered judgment for the chiropractic services provided to Dodson. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, as a matter of law, McKinley did not have a right to sue Erie. View "Erie Insurance Co. v. McKinley Chiropractic Center, P.C." on Justia Law

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In these consolidated appeals, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the State Corporation Commission upholding the constitutionality of Va. Code 56-585.1:1, which suspended the Commission’s biennial base rate reviews for Appalachian Power Company (APCO) and Virginia Electric and Power Company, d/b/a Dominion Virginia Power (Dominion Power) until the years 2020 and 2021, respectively. Appellants - Old Dominion Committee for Fair Utility Rates, VML/VACO APCO Steering Committee and Karen Torrent - appealed. In affirming, the Supreme Court held that section 56-585.1:1 is constitutional under Va. Const. art. IX, 2 because article IX, section 2 does not prohibit the general assembly from suspending the Commission’s biennial base rate reviews. View "Old Dominion Committee for Fair Utility Rates v. State Corp. Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court approving modifications to an easement by necessity crossing Joanna Palmer’s property. The circuit court approved the modifications after finding that they were reasonably necessary for the beneficial use of property owned by R. A. Yancey Lumber Corporation (Yancey). On appeal, Palmer argued that the circuit court erroneously granted Yancey the right to modify its easement by necessity because the modifications will unlawfully increase the width of an established easement by necessity. Alternatively, Palmer argued that the court erred by granting Yancey the right to modify the easement in order to use tractor-trailers extending over a road because this will unreasonably increase the burden on the Palmer property. The Supreme Court held (1) under the “reasonable necessity rule,” the width of an existing easement by necessity may be expanded without the consent of the servient landowner, but modifications to such easements must not create unreasonable burdens on the servient estate; and (2) the circuit court’s grant to Yancey the right to make modifications to widen its easement by necessity for use by tractor-trailers was neither plainly wrong, nor without evidence to support it. View "Palmer v. R. A. Yancey Lumber Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals rejecting Defendant’s argument that the evidence was insufficient to prove she committed the offense of using a cell phone for “purposes of procuring or promoting” one of her eleven-year-old students for activity that would violate Va. Code 18.2-370 (taking indecent liberties with children). Defendant, an elementary school teacher, argued on appeal that the Commonwealth’s evidence was insufficient to prove she committed the offense. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) no third-party communication is required for a violation of Va. Code 18.2-374.3(B); and (2) a rational fact-finder could have determined beyond a reasonable doubt that, in violation of section 18.2-374.3(B), the purpose of Defendant’s communication was to move forward with a scheme of taking indecent liberties with the victim as proscribed under section 18.2-370. View "Dietz v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court directing the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) to produce student growth percentile (SGP) data for certain Loudoun County Public School students under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. The Supreme Court held (1) as a matter of law, SGP data constitutes teacher performance indicators; and (2) SGPs are confidential under Va. Code 22.1-295.1(C) because the information in the SGPs disclose identifiable teacher information. Therefore, the circuit court erred in ordering the production of these documents containing teachers’ identifiable information. The court remanded the issue of attorney’s fees for determination in light of the holding in favor of the VDOE on appeal. View "Virginia Education Ass’n v. Davison" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court in denying Seller specific performance of a contract for the sale of real property after finding that Seller failed to establish that he held marketable title. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion by denying Seller’s motion in limine and admitting a substitute trustee’s deed, which rebutted Seller’s evidence that any dispute over ownership of the property had been resolved; (2) the circuit court did not err by granting Buyer’s motion to strike the evidence; and (3) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion by awarding Buyer attorney’s fees. View "Denton v. Browntown Valley Associates" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court ruling that the City of Danville and its Employees’ Retirement System were required by the provisions of Va. Code 51.1-813 to award a disability retirement benefit to Jacqueline Garrett, a former police officer, at a rate of no less than 66 2/3 percent of her average salary. The Supreme Court held that section 51.1-813, which was in Article 2 of Chapter 8 of Title 51.1 of the Code of Virginia, did not apply to the City because the City had neither taken steps to adopt Article 2, nor was the City included in the legislative direction mandating compliance with Article 2. Therefore, the circuit court erred in ordering the City and its retirement system to make payment to Garrett in compliance with section 51.1-813. View "City of Danville v. Garrett" on Justia Law

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Kohl’s Department Stores, Inc. entered into a license agreement with Kohl’s Illinois, Inc., an affiliate of Kohl’s that operates retail stores in select states, but not Virginia, for the use of intellectual property managed and licensed by Kohl’s Illinois. Kohl’s paid royalties to Kohl’s Illinois, and when calculating its federal taxable income, Kohl’s deducted these royalty payments from its income as an ordinary and necessary business expense. Kohl’s Illinois, however, did not pay state income taxes on a substantial portion of the royalties. Kohl’s claimed that the royalty payments fell within the “subject-to-tax” exception to the add back statute. The Virginia Department of Taxation auditor required that the untaxed portion be added back to Kohl’s taxable income and issued a notices of assessment to Kohl’s for certain taxable years. The circuit court affirmed, concluding that only the portion of the royalties that was actually taxed by another state fell within the subject-to-tax exception. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred by failing to hold that Kohl’s Illinois need not be the entity that pays the tax for the subject-to-tax exception to apply. Remanded for a determination of what portion of the royalty payments was actually taxed by another state and therefore excepted from the add back statute. View "Kohl's Department Stores, Inc. v. Virginia Department of Taxation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the circuit court sentencing Defendant to serve a prison term before beginning his involuntary civil commitment. Defendant pleaded guilty to an offense committed in July and not guilty by reason of insanity to offenses committed in August. The circuit court accepted Defendant’s pleas. The court sentenced Defendant to five years’ incarceration for the July offense and ordered that he be involuntary committed on the August offenses. The court sent Defendant to serve his prison term for the July offense before Defendant’s involuntary civil commitment for the August offenses. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion by sequencing Defendant’s prison term and involuntary civil commitment as it did. View "Williams v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court ruling favor of Loudoun County on Dulles Duty Free, LLC’s challenge to the County’s imposition of a business, professional, and occupational license (BPOL) tax on a substantial potion of Duty Free’s sales. Specifically, the circuit court concluded that the Import-Export Clause of the United States Constitution did not bar the County from imposing the BPOL tax. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the BPOL tax as applied to Duty Free’s export goods in transit constitutes an impermissible impost upon an export in violation of the Import-Export Clause of the United States Constitution. View "Dulles Duty Free, LLC v. County of Loudoun" on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law